To help combat highway fatalities, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) of 2015 authorized over $2.7 billion in highway safety grant funds for fiscal years 2016 through 2020. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded these safety grants to States, which distributed them to a network of sub-grantees, then monitored the funds’ use for each State Highway Safety Office. Due to the significant amount of grant funding authorized by the FAST Act and the importance of NHTSA’s oversight, we initiated this audit as a follow up to our 2014 recommendations to help the Agency improve oversight controls for safety grants. Specifically, we reviewed NHTSA’s actions to improve controls over (1) mitigation of deficiencies identified by the Agency’s triennial management reviews of States, (2) monitoring States’ compliance with Federal grant requirements, (3) States’ timeliness in expending grant funds, and (4) developing and implementing an electronic database to identify and monitor recurrent or systemic grant oversight findings.
What We Found
NHTSA implemented our 2014 recommendations to improve the Agency’s oversight of highway safety grants. Specifically, NHTSA worked with States to mitigate deficiencies and revised its grant oversight policies and procedures to require documentation of States’ corrective actions and management approval for closing actions. The Agency also implemented updated monitoring procedures and a risk assessment process for improving States’ compliance with Federal grant requirements and for monitoring the timeliness of States’ expenditure of highway safety grant funds. Finally, NHTSA is evaluating options to replace its grant information system.